Elon acting alums ready and resilient as they enter their profession

Several alumni from the BFA Acting program at Elon are seeing themselves in prominent acting roles, thanks in large part to the preparation they received as Elon students.

Left to right: Julian Elijah Martinex, Becca Hurd, Austin Larkin and Tommi Aleman.

Booking work post-graduation is becoming more and more challenging for an increasing number of young actors. The COVID-19 pandemic has also changed how theater companies operate, forcing them to cancel or postpone shows. With all this uncertainty, how is the Bachelor’s of Fine Arts Acting program at Elon preparing students to be so successful once they leave university? And how are their alumni continuing to book work?

When students accept their spots in the program, one of the first things they learn is that they are becoming a part of a large network of past, current, and future Elon alumni who will help them throughout their careers.

“The Elon alumni network is very real and very valuable” said Austin Larkin ‘17. “Many of the jobs I’ve had – acting jobs and survival jobs alike – can be traced back in one way or another to someone I met through Elon… we’re always looking out for each other.”

Larkin started his career right after graduation at the Orlando Shakespeare Festival and starred in Dennis Bush’s Head First on Off-Broadway in 2019.

The faculty is also here to support students and make sure they’re equipped with all the tools to succeed after leaving Elon. Tommi Aleman ‘20 has recently appeared in commercials for New Balance, GK Hair and Arby’s.

“My professors supported me as I looked for theatrical internships, apprenticeships and summer contracts. They critiqued my monologues, wrote recommendation letters and reviewed my contracts for me,” Aleman said, who began booking work while she was still a student at Elon and has continued to book countless films and commercials since graduating.

In terms of preparation for the professional world, alumni feel they leave the program confident and ready to work. “Elon Acting gave me a foundation. It gave me affirmation that this is something I can pursue and do,” said Julian Elijah Martinez ’09.

In 2018, Martinez starred in the Broadway production of “Network” alongside Bryan Cranston. When asked if he had any advice for current students, Martinez said, “Don’t stop training, get a hobby and learn from everybody, regardless of their pedagogy or where they went to school… everyone has a lesson, and you don’t know where they will be in five years.” Martinez went on to receive an MFA in Acting from Yale University.

The friends that students make in the program are friends they carry with them for life. “I’ve definitely gotten work due to connections I made at Elon,” said Becca Hurd ‘16, who received her bachelor’s in cinema and television arts. “Some of my best friends I met in the film program at Elon. We still make films together. We’ve been accepted and won awards at film festivals across the world.”

One of Hurd’s films, “The Other Side of 25,” was a quarterfinalist at the Atlanta Film Festival in 2021. She adapted this from her stage play of the same name, which she wrote while receiving an MFA in Writing for Performance at the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Australia.

The BFA Acting program is always looking to highlight what makes a unique performer. As Larkin puts it, the four years spent in this program will teach a student to “embrace your unique set of gifts, hone them, deepen them and refine them.”